Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription Access

Germany's Immigration and Asylum Policies: Open or Closed Borders?

Gayle K. Berardi


German citizens and government officials are concerned that Germany's borders need to be strictly maintained while at the same time guaranteeing those seeking asylum the opportunity to enter Germany. This seeming contradiction between the two positions reflects the dual functions of borders (Stoddard 1991). On the one hand, borders serve as a barrier and on the other hand, borders can be permeable and provide access to the country's political and economic system. The often heated debate within Germany over immigration and asylum policy is indicative of policy-makers' attempts to balance these functions. At the same time, German officials are exploring the possibility of a united European immigration policy that would establish a future transnational border with the European community.

This article will explore the development of immigration and asylum policy in Germany from 1960 to 1990. This time period was selected for two reasons: one, during this time Germany developed its 'guestworker' program that has had a continuing effect on the perceptions of immigrants by Germans and thus, on the development of immigration policy; and second, the unification of Germany in 1989 has produced new issues regarding immigration policy (McAdams 1993). In addition, the article will explore the possibilities for changes in future immigration and asylum policies.

Full Text:


All rights reserved
Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229